Here is another variation of the major essay assignment that also includes clear guidelines for the topic proposal. The above version differs in that it gives the assignment expectations in separate, bulleted points rather than as a block of text.
E238 20th Century Fiction
Major Essay Assignment
Requirements: The major essay is an opportunity to continue to explore and develop the discourse of this class. Your task is to add something new to the ongoing conversation between members of the class, the texts we've read, and the writers we've encountered by advocating that a text of your choice be added to the course reading list.
Your essay should provide an overview of the text you've chosen, explain how it would add to/enhance/challenge/spur on the conversation happening in this course, and make an argument for why you believe the text you've chosen would be a necessary addition to the reading list. In this sense, feel free to discuss what you think the current book list might be lacking in terms of variety, voice, culture, etc. You might also like to discuss what book from the current list you would replace with you text, giving reasons to support these choices (though this should only be a small portion of the argument, if included – focus on what book you would add and why).
You may argue for the inclusion of any text you think would be a valuable addition to this course. That said, given the design of the course, here are a few parameters to work with:
In building your argument, your essay should refer to at least 3 of the books/stories on the current list, and you should cite specifics from your chosen book as evidence, to illustrate your points. Your essay may also include outside evidence and/or examples that support your argument. Outside evidence must be accountably cited, using MLA documentation, and may include but is not limited to critical perspectives on the texts, material from current course texts, discussions, etc., and personal experience.
Prior to completing your essay, you will post an informal topic proposal. Also, guidelines with further details on structure, MLA formatting, etc., will be presented later in the semester.
Format: Standard academic format is appropriate for this assignment, including a works cited page, 1 inch margins, and a 12 point readable font as well as correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Points will be deducted for poor proofreading. As the due date gets closer, I will spend some time discussing how to structure this paper. It should take 5-7 pages to thoroughly complete this assignment.
Evaluation: The major essay is worth 15% of your overall course grade. I will take into account critical, well-supported thinking, quality writing, evidence of your understanding of the material, creativity, and general thoughtful completion of the assignment.
Topic Proposal Guidelines
Prior to turning in your major essay, you will turn in a topic proposal that sketches out an overview of what you're planning to write about. A good topic proposal will articulate your thinking about this project clearly enough that I can get a sense of what the finished project will look like and suggest sources, things to think about, and so on. A topic proposal is just that - a tentative description of what your paper will look like, and since you're just "proposing" a topic at this point, it's entirely possible that the finished project will differ a bit from what you lay out in your proposal.